A white Detroit high school history teacher is under investigation for a series of racially insensitive remarks to his mostly black students, including allegedly comparing them to slaves.
A Renaissance High School parent tells Fox 2 he was informed by his son that social studies teacher Duncan DeBruin compared the students to the servant class in ancient Sparta. When his son asked if the teacher was calling them slaves, the teacher allegedly responded: "Yeah, you're like slaves to the teachers — we tell you what to do and you have to do everything we say."
The parent, Jamon Jordan, posted about what happened to Facebook, prompting others to come forward about more questionable behavior by the teacher. Jordan says he's told the teacher also:
- Told students voicing support for Black Lives Matter that, "No, blue lives matter."
- Barred students from writing a book report on civil rights activist Assata Shakur, calling her a "cop killer"
- Asked a student if she knew how to read
After the report initially aired Wednesday, the schools' senior class defended the teacher in a statement to Fox 2:
On behalf of [the class of] 2020, we will like to publicly defend Duncan DeBruin in regard to the allegations made in the last 24 hours. As you know there is always two sides to every story. We see the metaphor in this situation has been taken out of context.
Mr. DeBruin is an outspoken, energetic, candid teacher who expresses himself in a very unique manner. In no way, shape, or form has Mr. DeBruin ever made a comment with the intentions of offending any student black or white. We have personally witnessed him go out of his way to ensure that students receive a quality education. He travels for over 30 minutes twice a day to arrive on time. He makes the atmosphere in the classroom, as well as the school in general, more accepting and inclusive, allowing students to express themselves comfortably. He has definitely tried his hardest to prepare us for what comes after high school knowing and acknowledging the adversities we face as young African Americans but has never used this to degrade us in any way. The metaphor highlighted in this instance was taken massively out of context. The reference of students being slaves was used with the intention to further explain a history concept, not to make the connection of African American students being slaves to a white teacher. We would like to make it very clear that we are not invalidating the emotions of any students who were offended by his comment, but the way one person and their family interprets a metaphor stated during a lesson is no way a judgement of someone's character. The class of 2020 fully stand behind Duncan DeBruin and will support him during his investigation in any way possible.
— Renaissance High School, Class of 2020